A lot can change for a band in nearly two decades. There are the normal everyday life ups and downs that everyone goes through, of course, and there's the waxing and waning of cultural trends and public perception to contend with. (Ello, anyone?) But in their lengthy career (the band put out their first EP in 1997), Florida pop-punk icons New Found Glory have largely stayed the course, occasionally flirting with the mainstream, never deviating too far afield from the sound that ultimately earned them their ride-or-die fan base in the first place.
As you might expect from a band crossing their eighth album milestone, they're somewhat more reflective on Resurrection, as guitarist Chad Gilbert explained over the phone from Connecticut, where he and the band had just finished soundcheck for a show that night. In characteristic form, they've been inviting fans request any song they want to hear at their shows. "We have a few hundred songs -- but if we can remember it -- we'll play it," he joked.
The feeling of rebirth, of dusting oneself off, and moving ahead runs throughout the record; hell, the concept is right there in the title. The band had written the song "Resurrection" first, and it felt like a perfect way to encapsulate the tone of the record. "Singing songs about our friends, you never cared about them," Jordan Pundik sings. "So long, and thanks for nothing. I'm gone, I'm moving on, watch my resurrection."
"I feel our band has gone through a lot this year, and I feel like we've learned a lot," Gilbert says. And yes, titling the album Resurrection was a way of acknowledging those changes, he added. Most notably the departure of founding member Steve Klein.
I'd been asked not to talk about the guitarist's controversial ousting, but the tone of Gilbert's thoughts seemed to keep returning to it, so it was hard to ignore. Despite the deep feeling of loss that came through during our conversation -- and in plenty of the songs on the record: "You might be the worst person I've ever met, I've ever known," goes "The Worst Person" -- Gilbert's optimistic.
MTV: Can you talk about what the idea of resurrection means on the album?
Chad Gilbert: We first wrote the song "Resurrection," and it felt perfect for the album title. Through resurrection, most things come back better and stronger, and you learn a lot. Even for me, as a personal thing -- I remember my dad passed away, and coming out of that at the time was such a hard moment in my life. But now I can be there for so many people since I've lived it. With our record, it felt kind of like the perfect thing to say "Hey, we're the same band, but we're acknowledging there was a point in our career where there was a switch." But now we feel better and stronger, and so far, based on the reception of the new album and this tour, I feel like our fans are really feeling that, which is cool.
MTV: It's your eighth album. Do you notice any lyrical or musical themes cropping back up into your songs?
Gilbert: I really feel like New Found Glory created a subgenre. When we first came out it was this happy accident, and I was sort of into hardcore at the time. Jordan our singer was really into Jawbreaker and a lot of indie rock bands and old Dischord bands, and sort of like more of the indie side of music. Our bass player was really into West Coast punk.
When we started writing songs back then it was sort of this weird blend of all these subgenres into one, and we sort of created our own style, so when it comes to writing songs, we can't help but sound like this melting pot of music. So there's always going to be that classic New Found Glory... I guess you could say structure. And especially with our singer's voice. I think that's a bonus with us. We can play any style of song, and it will sound like us because of Jordan.
MTV: How about lyrically?
Gilbert: I think one thing that's amazing about Resurrection is that we weren't afraid to lay it all out there lyrically. I feel the last few albums, it's not that I disliked the lyrics -- I liked the lyrics, but our world was pretty easy. It was a formula as far as, not songwriting, but touring. We would write an album, make it as catchy as possible, go on tour. Then a couple years later do it again. When you're on this sort of simple path I guess you don't have as much... there's less of a challenge. Which means I don't think you push yourself as hard. Coming into this record with New Found Glory's world being rocked, I feel like we have a lot more to say than we did before. Now that we've been a band for almost 17 years, the things we're talking about now cut way deeper with people. It's not just surface. This is real life, and our music is how we get it out. I feel like our word has way more value with our fans now.
MTV: When you're talking about changes, you're talking about the situation around Steve, right?
Gilbert: We lost a member of the band, it's public info, but we hear what our fans hear at this point. We haven't talked to him since the day we asked him to leave the band, so we know what our fans hear, so it's sort of like, it's a very big blow to our band, and I think we definitely all learned how strong we are as people. I think that's the message of this record is to look at unexpected things that happen to everybody in life. Things can be going smooth, and one day you wake up and something happens. I think as surprised as we were, as well as our fans, we've always been an inspiration to our fans, and we're never going to stop being that. So we wrote a record that I feel lets us get a lot of stuff off our chest.
MTV: I read that you wrote all of the songs ahead of time for this album, which was different for you.
Gilbert: I wouldn't say it's a different process. I'd say that before, when writing, I think there was a struggle to finish the lyrical side of things. We would find ourselves in the studio finishing more of the lyrics, and this time around there wasn't that. We got together, and we were able to write without any sort of like hiccup. It was just very easy. Ian lived in Florida, and me and Jordan and Cyrus would get together every Wednesday in L.A. and do demos on the computer, send to them Ian, get his take, and all bring stuff to the table -- literally the table in my dining room. It was cool. When we went into the studio every song, every melody, every lyric was finished.
MTV: Do you have a favorite song off of this record?
Gilbert: I really love the song "Persistent." At the beginning of the year me and my girlfriend had this sort of split we didn't tell anyone about, and that's when we started writing that song. We've been together almost six years now, and we just hit this sort of tough patch in our relationship, and we took a month and a half apart. It was a great thing to do because it brought us back even stronger. That's sort of what that song is about. Every relationship is different, but I feel like a lot of times people might run away instead of digging through them. No matter what, you're always going to run into a struggle. We ran into that. Again, not to sound corny to promote my record, but it was sort of a resurrection in our relationship. Until you feel apart from someone you really don't know what it's worth. Now we're closer and stronger, and that's what "Persistent" is about. The title says it all.
MTV: You're going back out under the Pop Punk's Not Dead title for your European tour. That's obviously a cheeky reference, but was there a time where you felt like it was? Like punk was actually dead?
Gilbert: Yeah, it's just like a fun thing. I don't know how the rest of the band feels about it, but for us, we coined that when we did Radiosurgery, put it on some t-shirts. We did Pop Punk's Not Dead Tour in the States and never had a chance to bring it over there. I feel like it's sort of this thing where the surface music fan, they treat things out of sight out of mind. It's this funny catch 22 where they want to feel like they're hip and cool to what's new, but how they get what's new is by the radio or TV, and they think if they don't see it on there or hear it doesn't exist. Really, they're not as hip and cool as they think they are.
When it comes to this style of music, there's this whole new genre that has come out, bands doing amazing things, like The Story So Far, The Wonder Years, bands that are killing out there that sell more tickets than bands on the radio do. But because they're not on the radio people want to disregard the genre. But for us it's just like, hey, we still sell out venues, they still sell out venues. Just because it's not in the mainstream doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And to be honest, it's always been a subgenre of music. Punk rock was never meant to be popular. The term pop0punk is funny. It was never supposed to be big in the first place. The bands exist with or without mainstream success.
New Found Glory is currently headlining the Glamour Kills Tour. They'll head to Europe in November 2014, and continue touring abroad into 2015.